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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2011): Education - UK - higher

21 Oxbridge colleges did not take any black students

J. Vasagar

The Guardian, Dec. 7th 2010, p. 1

Figures released following a request made by Labour MP David Lammy under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that more than 20 colleges in Oxford and Cambridge made no offers to black candidates for undergraduate courses in 2009.

Anger at arrest of student fee demonstrators

K. Rawlinson

The Guardian, Dec. 2nd 2010, p. 6

More than 150 demonstrators were arrested at student protests in London after they refused to abandon their rally in Trafalgar Square. Officers, again, used their 'kettling' tactic to detain protesters as the demonstration, initially peaceful, ended in a stand-off between students and police. Meanwhile, students who have occupied University College London for the last nine days have been told to leave or face legal action. Further days of protests are being planned.

(See also The Guardian, Dec. 2nd 2010, p. 21)

Assault on the capital. Protesters attack Charles and Camilla. Treasury stormed after tuition fees vote

A. Fresco, B. Kenber and S. O'Neill

The Times, Dec. 10th 2010, p. 1 and 3

Protests against rising tuition fees culminated in a break-away mob chasing and attacking the car taking the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to the Royal Variety Performance. The Treasury, the Supreme Court, the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square and Sir Winston Churchill's statue were all damaged.

Cat and mouse game as protesters take to streets again

K. Rawlinson

The Independent, Dec. 1st 2010, p. 29

Protests against tuition fees increases continued across the country on Nov. 30th with a third day of action that saw students stage walkouts and demonstrations in London and throughout the country. In Leeds, school children marched alongside university and college students through the city centre. In Sheffield protesters gathered outside the deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's constituency office while in Birmingham 2000 demonstrators occupied the council chamber.

(See also The Guardian, Dec. 1st 2010, p. 14)

Clegg braced for 'train wreck' tuition fee vote

N. Watt

The Guardian, Dec. 6th 2010, p. 9

Nick Clegg is facing the biggest challenge to his authority as Liberal Democrat leader since the formation of the coalition government after failing to broker an agreement on tuition fees with the party's president ahead of the vote in Parliament on Thursday. The Lib Dems are now expected to split four ways: senior ministers will vote in favour of a proposed increase; a group of ministers and some backbenchers will exercise their right to abstain; a significant group of backbenchers will vote against the rise and some MPs are prepared to abandon the vote if there is enough support to table an amendment to the government's motion on Thursday.

(See also The Independent, Dec. 6th 2010, p. 4)

Clegg concedes party is split as Tories defect too

A. Grice

The Independent, Dec. 8th 2010, p. 10

At a meeting of his MPs ahead of the vote in Parliament on tuition fee increases, Nick Clegg conceded that his party would not maintain a united front. The government is still expected to win the vote with a majority of between 20 and 40, but an unexpected rebellion among Tory MPs has added to jitters among ministers.

(See also The Guardian, Dec. 8th 2010, p. 19)

Clegg set for Pyrrhic victory in fees vote

A. Grice

The Independent, Dec. 9th 2010, p. 10

Nick Clegg is still battling to secure the support of the 57 Liberal Democrat MPs in the critical Commons vote on tuition fee increases. Although the government is expected to have a parliamentary majority, the Lib Dem leader will work to the last minute to limit the rebellion in his party.

(See also The Guardian, Dec. 9th 2010, p. 10-11)

Clegg to make plea to divided party on eve of fees vote

P. Wintour, A. Stratton and R. Williams

The Guardian, Dec. 7th 2010, p. 14

Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg is to make a desperate final plea to persuade his MPs to maintain unity on the eve of the vote on tuition fee rises, but that prospect is evaporating after two junior ministers, Norman Baker and Lynn Featherstone, are considering whether to abstain or vote against, a move that would prompt their resignation from the government. Meanwhile, the Tory MP David Davis has announced that he too will rebel at the vote in the Commons on Thursday.

(See also The Independent, Dec. 7th 2010, p. 12)

Coalition faces new fees problem in Lords

P. Wintour

The Guardian, Dec. 14th 2010, p. 12

The Liberal Democrats have run into fresh trouble as the party's higher education spokesman in the Lords, Lady Sharp, has said she is not sure she can vote for the coalition government's trebling of tuition fees.

English pay £6,000 to study in Scotland

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Dec.17th 2010, p. 1

The Scottish government is considering plans to charge English, Welsh and Northern Irish students at Scottish universities tuition fees of £6,000 per year from 2012. Scottish students would continue to attend university free of charge. The announcement will add to unrest over English taxpayers subsidising cheap education in the devolved administrations.

(See also The Guardian, Dec. 17th 2010, p. 17)

Higher education in the age of austerity

A. Massey and G. Munro

Policy Exchange, 2010

Current guidelines state that only institutions with permanent degree awarding powers can call themselves a 'university'. But only state-maintained institutions are allowed to have permanent degree awarding powers. This circular situation neatly cuts out private institutions from the most prestigious title in higher education. The authors of this report believe strongly that access to the title of university should be decided according to an institution's quality, and not its legal status, so they recommend that the Government immediately end this institutionalised discrimination against private higher education providers. In the new system outlined by Lord Browne, universities will face a harsher competitive environment. In the past, the Government has simply kept struggling universities afloat. A much better solution is to make use of the capital and expertise of the private education sector, and encourage private providers to step in and take over the failing university, in whole or in part.

Higher tuition fees, but only if you are English

G. Paton and R. Prince

Daily Telegraph, Dec. 1st 2010, p. 1

The Welsh Assembly Government has announced that it will subsidise the tuition fees of university students domiciled in Wales, so that they will only pay £3,200 a year. Scottish students pay no tuition fees at all at present. In contrast, English students will be charged up to £9,000 a year to attend university under coalition government reforms.

I may abstain on policy I devised, admits Cable

R. Prince and G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Dec. 1st 2010, p. 10

Liberal Democrat MPs are considering how to vote on plans to cut university funding and force students to pay up to £9,000 per year in tuition fees. Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary, has indicated that he would be prepared to take the unprecedented step of abstaining on the Commons vote about raising tuition fees despite being responsible for drawing up the policy.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Dec. 2nd 2010, p. 12; Independent, Dec. 1st 2010, p. 1; Guardian, Dec. 1st 2010, p. 14)

Labour tells Gove: you're wrong on social mobility

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Dec. 28th 2010, p. 14

The proportion of teenagers from poor backgrounds who go to university has been rising at a much higher rate than that of their more affluent classmates (18 and 9% respectively), research conducted by the Labour Party shows. The data also reveal that the proportion of poorer pupils gaining places at Russell Group universities rose by 10% compared to 4.5% among school leavers from well off backgrounds.

Majority cut to 21 as rebels split coalition

S. Coates

The Times, Dec. 10th 2010, p. 4-5

Plans to raise tuition fees from 2012 to £9,000 were passed by only 21 votes in the Commons, the smallest majority since the coalition was formed.

Met Police wake up to another thumping amid questions over Stephenson tactics

S. O'Neill

The Times, Dec. 10th 2010, p. 6

Questions are being asked about student riots on Dec. 9th 2010 including whether Sir Paul Stephenson, head of Scotland Yard, should resign after over 3,000 police failed to stop the violence spreading across London. A timetable of the day's events is included.

Peers reject last attempt to block tuition fees

P. Wintour and A. Stratton

The Guardian, Dec. 15th 2010, p. 2

A last-ditch attempt by Labour peers to block the trebling of university tuition fees failed despite a small rebellion by Lib Dem peers, including an abstention by Lady Sharp, the party higher education spokeswoman in the Lords.

(See also The Independent, Dec. 15th 2010, p. 8)

Poorest 'worse off' under fee rise

R. Prince

Daily Telegraph, Dec. 9th 2010, p. 8

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has forecast that students from the bottom 30% of households in terms of parental income would be worse off financially by the time they had repaid their loans than under the current system. Despite its reservations, the IFS concluded that overall the new student support system was progressive because higher earners would repay more than those on low incomes. In the meantime the government, anxious to ward off accusations that families on tight budgets would be reluctant to allow youngsters to run up huge debts, has offered a series of concessions. A new national scholarship scheme will allow children eligible for free school meals who go on to higher education to have their first year fees paid by the state, with the second year funded by the university.

Pressure grows as vice-chancellors decide on charges

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Dec. 31st 2010, p. 3

Students are preparing to occupy university buildings and hold more demonstrations against increased tuition fees and cuts to higher education early in the New Year to convince vice-chancellors not to raise fees to the new maximum of £9,000, but to nearer £6,000 instead.

(See also The Guardian, Dec. 31st 2010, p. 3)

Responding to the new landscape for university access

Sutton Trust


This is the summary of the Sutton Trust's initial response to a series of Government reforms in support of broader access to higher education and widening participation activities aimed at attracting students from non-privileged backgrounds into university. Key findings:

  • Independent school pupils are over 22 times more likely to enter a highly selective university than state school children entitled to free school meals (FSM)
  • Independent school pupils are 55 times more likely than FSM pupils to gain a place at Oxford or Cambridge
  • These stark university participation gaps are driven by significant gaps in attainment at GCSE level and before: independent school pupils are three and a half times more likely than FSM pupils to attain five GCSEs with grades A*-C including English and maths
  • Independent school pupils are 6 times more likely to attend a highly selective university than the majority of children in state schools not entitled to free school meals
  • At the 25 most academically selective universities in England, only 2% (approximately 1,300 pupils each year) of the student intake is made up of free school meals pupils
  • At the most selective universities of all, including Oxbridge, less than 1% of students are FSM pupils
  • The proportions of FSM students vary significantly between different highly selective universities

    Student Loans Company overcharged by £15m

    M. King

    The Guardian, Dec. 16th 2010, p. 16

    The Student Loans Company has overcharged graduates and other ex students by £15m, research published by the consumer watchdog Which? has revealed following a Freedom of Information request.

    Student union 'sought grant cuts'

    J. Kirkup, R. Prince and A. Porter

    Daily Telegraph, Dec. 9th 2010, p. 1 + 2

    According to leaked emails, the National Union of Students secretly urged the coalition government to make deep cuts in student grants and charge market interest rates on student loans. The disclosure is likely to cause discord within the union.

    Students seek private tuition

    J. Vasagar

    The Guardian, Dec. 30th 2010, p. 4

    University students have contacted private tuition agencies to help bridge the gap between A levels and undergraduate studies amid concerns that schools are failing to prepare them for the demands of higher education.

    Thousands gather for fees protest at Parliament

    K. Rawlinson and S. Morrison

    The Independent, Dec. 9th 2010, p. 11

    Thousands of students across the country engaged in protests against proposed higher tuition fees on Dec. 8th 2010, as the build up to the final march on Westminster got underway.

    (See also The Guardian, Dec 9th 2010, p. 1)

    Thousands of students left without support

    R. Garner

    The Independent, Dec. 7th 2010, p. 12

    As many as 100,000 students were left with no financial support from the Student Loans Company at the start of the autumn university term, placing a question mark over the company's ability to deliver payments in the future.

    Two-pronged rebellion fails to derail Cameron

    A. Grice and N. Morris

    The Independent, Dec. 10th 2010, p. 2

    As police clashed with student protesters in violent scenes outside Parliament, the votes of Liberal Democrat MPs ensured the passage of the coalition government's plan to allow English universities to charge up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees.

    (See also The Independent, Dec. 10th 2010, p. 6-7; Guardian, Dec. 10th 2010, p. 1-2 and 4-7)

    Understanding pedagogic discrimination: strategies for improving performance of ethnic minority students in higher education

    E. Blass and K. Weston

    Race Equality Teaching, vol. 29, no. 1, 2010, p. 31-34

    This article argues that for pedagogic discrimination to be addressed across all institutions, a wide ranging review of higher education pedagogy needs to be undertaken and alternative pedagogic provisions trialled within existing institutional settings. Many universities are engaging in ICT and e-development which will offer students alternative pedagogic strategies in addition to campus-based provision. It is too early to see if these will impact on the differentials in ethnic minority attainment that currently occur. But technology cannot be the answer to all evils. It is the approach to pedagogy within universities themselves that needs questioning, not merely how pedagogy is operationalised.

    Universities face £6,000 tuition fee cap over equal opportunities

    J. Vasagar

    The Guardian, Dec. 7th 2010, p. 15

    Universities could be stripped of the right to charge students more than £6,000 a year in tuition fees through an annual review of whether they hit targets on attracting applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    Universities pay students compensation

    J. Shepherd

    The Guardian, Dec. 28th 2010, p. 4

    Universities pay students hundreds of thousands of pounds each year and waive teenagers' tuition fees to compensate for their mistakes, including quality of teaching, data obtained by The Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed.

    University funding to be cut before increase in tuition fees

    A. Stratton

    The Guardian, Dec. 20th 2010, p. 12

    The government is to announce the first cuts to university budgets today, before the revenue from increased tuition fees comes in. Despite lobbying by Universities UK for the cuts to be delayed until 2012, the universities minister David Willetts is to push ahead with cuts of up to £400m - 6% of the university budget - from April 2011, 12 months before the new fees regime begins.

    University places to be cut by 10,000 as demand rises

    J. Vasagar

    The Guardian, Dec. 21st 2010, p. 7

    The number of places on degree courses in England will be cut by 10,000 by 2012, according to a government's letter outlining future funding cuts to higher education. Funding reductions include a £300m cut to the teaching budget and a £100m cut to research grants.

    Use of an aptitude test in university entrance: a validity study

    C. Kirkup and others

    The Sutton Trust


    In 2005, the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) was commissioned to evaluate the potential value of using an aptitude test (the SAT Reasoning TestTM) as an additional tool in the selection of candidates for admission to higher education (HE). This five-year study was co-funded by the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS), the NFER, the Sutton Trust and the College Board. This report presents findings from the final phase of the project, relating the prior attainment and SAT® scores of participating students who graduated in 2006 to their degree outcomes. It also summarises findings from the study as a whole, and cross references where appropriate to the various interim reports. Key findings:

    • Of the prior attainment measures, average A level points score is the best predictor of HE participation and degree class, followed by average GCSE points score. The inclusion of GCSE information adds usefully to the predictive power of A levels.
    • In the absence of other data, the SAT® has some predictive power but it does not add any additional information, over and above that of GCSEs and A levels (or GCSEs alone), at a significantly useful level.
    • There is no evidence that the SAT® provides sufficient information to identify students with the potential to benefit from higher education whose ability is not adequately reflected in their prior attainment.
    • The SAT® does not distinguish helpfully between the most able applicants who get three or more A grades at A level. The SAT® Reading and Writing components do add some predictive power for some classes of degree at highly selective universities, but add very little beyond the information provided by prior attainment, in particular prior attainment at GCSE.
    • The relationship between degree performance, prior attainment and the type of school attended suggests that on average students from comprehensive schools are likely to achieve higher degree classifications than students with similar attainment from grammar and independent schools.
    • Having controlled for prior attainment, gender was not a significant predictor of degree outcome, e.g. male students were neither more likely nor less likely to do better at university than female students with the same prior attainment. In this sample, ethnicity was also not a significant predictor of degree class, although in a recent much larger study ethnicity differences were found to be statistically significant (HEFCE, 2010a).
    • In an earlier phase of the research it was found that girls are more likely to be in HE than boys with similar attainment, yet girls tend to enter courses with lower entry requirements than would be expected from their prior attainment compared with boys.
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